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Kim Possible
(6:30 pm/ET, DISNEY)
A high school student's life is tough enough without trying to save the world before the first period.

Here's the sitch (Kim Possible slang for situation): A mad scientist named Dr. Drakken has taken over a videogame factory in Tokyo, delaying the arrival of Japan's latest anime-toy craze onto American shores. The motivations for this corporate hijacking are unclear. He's either just another in a long line of demented scientists interested in world domination or maybe he's just an especially nasty guy trying to ruin Christmas. In any event, in this fast-paced and clever animated series, there's no question as to who'll save the day.

Kim Possible, TV's newest high-flying, butt-kicking action heroine, is a typical high schooler... except for the fact that in her spare time she protects the planet from evildoers. Following the gender-friendly girl-power stylings of female crimefighters from the cartoonish Wonder Woman played by Lynda Carter in the 1970s to Sarah Michelle Gellar's perfectly-tressed Buffy and those cutesy little Powerpuff Girls, Kim headlines a show designed to give the younger set an adrenaline rush.

The opening that's sung by pop star Christina Milian establishes the tone with its catchy lyrics ("call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me") and infectious, pulsing rhythm. Even Stevens actress Christy Carlson Romano as the voice of Kim gives this teenager a steely confidence when facing the bad guys. The colorful cast of characters in Kim's life include her brain-surgeon mom and rocket-scientist dad (an impossibly upbeat Jean Smart and a humorously obtuse Gary Cole). Kim's best friend and sidekick is Ron Stoppable (Will Friedle). Rounding out the crew is smart guy Wade (Tahj Mowry), who outfits Kim with a slew of James Bond-esque gadgets and weapons; and Kim's catty cheerleading rival Bonnie Rockwaller (Kirsten Storms).

Three back-to-back episodes introduce Kim and the gang. The Disney Channel series packs a real comic punch, in part because of the endearing goofiness of Friedle's easily excitable Ron. This evening's second installment finds Kim and the pep squad stranded overnight at Camp Wannaweep, where Ron draws laughs from his flashbacks to the "worst summer of all time." Later, it's Ron's new hip hairdo, which lands him in an amusing comb fight with a well-coiffed egomaniac voiced by Nestor Carbonell, last seen playing Batmanuel on The Tick.

It's the opener, though, that presents Kim's funniest foil as she battles the arch villain Drakken (Futurama regular John DiMaggio) and his curvaceous henchwoman Shego (Nicole Sullivan). Despite his ingenuity for thinking up bad deeds, Drakken's just no good at carrying them out. So is it any wonder that when his diabolical motive for muscling his way into the Japanese video-game biz is finally revealed, Kim cops a "no big deal" attitude in defeating him? Besides, Kim's in the midst of struggling with a far worse case of butterflies as she works up the nerve to ask "hottie" Josh Mankey (guest voice Breckin Meyer) to a dance. "Drakken was easy compared to this," Kim sighs.

Yep, toxic lake creatures, environmentally hazardous multimillionaires, exploding zit-like devices and abominable snow monsters look like pieces of cake when set against the trials and tribulations of homework, first love, peer pressure, curfews and heartbreak.

Kim Possible knows it's not the end of the world when danger calls. Growing up is more complicated than fighting crime; just think back to your own youth for proof of that.

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